When you live in a town as small as Crozet, Virginia, everyone is privy to your private affairs. No one knows that better than postmistress Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen. After a bad divorce with resident veterinarian Pharamond "Fair" Haristeen, thanks to the affair he had with Virginia's very own vixen, BoomBoom Craycroft, Harry's life was put on display. But she's a strong woman, determined to prove to the folks of Crozet that she's quite happy without Fair, and doing well on her own. But the appearance of newcomer Blair Bainbridge in town makes her wonder if she's ready to hop back into the relationship boat.
Since being cheated on by her ex-husband, Fair, Harry is taking a sabbatical from men. She's quite content spending her days tending her farm, and working at the post office where she has a bird's eye view of all of her neighbors. When city slicker Blair Bainbridge arrives in town, however, Harry can't help but wonder if, perhaps, something could happen between the two. Blair is handsome and rugged, but he's also a kind soul who needs a lot of help learning the way farm's work. As a courteous neighbor, Harry is more than happy to show him the ropes. But not everyone in Crozet is so trusting of the newcomer. When pieces of a dismembered body begin springing up around Crozet, people begin questioning Blair's arrival. After all, things were always quaint, cozy, carefree, and safe within the Crozet city limits until Blair arrived. Now a dismembered corpse has popped up, and no one knows who it belongs to. With Christmas right around the corner, not many are interested in dwelling on the evil surrounding them. Except for Harry. Harry can't help but feel that something is quite amiss within Crozet, and she's determined to find out what, exactly, is going on - even if just to clear Blair's name. With the terrific tabby, Mrs. Murphy, along with the cuddly Welsh Corgi, Tee Tucker, by her side, Harry feels that the trio is more than enough manpower to finger the culprit. But when another body turns up - this one closer to home - Harry begins to realize that she's treading unsafe waters, and will have to watch her back, or else she may be the next Crozet citizen who ends up dead and buried.
I have been reading Rita Mae Brown's MRS. MURPHY mysteries for over ten years; but, having not started from the beginning, I had never read REST IN PIECES. If only I would have known what I was missing, I would have read it years ago. Harry seems even more fiery, spirited, and brazen within the pages of REST IN PIECES than she does in later additions to the series. She seems so youthful, and, perhaps, more carefree. While Harry's divorce from Fair is much more prevalent in REST IN PIECES, because the wounds of his whole affair are still opened, it never overshadows the story. In fact, it presents a nice bit of history that only makes the reader like Harry more. Mrs. Murphy and Tee Tucker are their usual adorable, bickering, nosy selves; and the inclusion of Simon the opossum is simply delightful, as he is so sweet and cute. The Crozet characters are both humorous and bitter - depending on when you encounter them - but their little town feels like home to the reader, and is a wonderful place to stop by every now and then. A captivating tale - Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie are quite the writing duo!